Australasia leading the world with future: gas seminars to help businesses prepare
- Cars entering Australasian market with new R-1234yf air conditioning refrigerant
- Workshops need to be ready with gas, equipment and training
- Industry-led future: gas seminar roadshow designed to broaden refrigerant knowledge
- R-1234yf the first refrigerant to officially begin replacing industry standard R134a
- R-744 to follow in high-end German luxury cars
- Seminar tickets just $10 for mid-week evening events around Australia and New Zealand
- A/C website to become an information resource for new automotive refrigerants
Automotive businesses doing air-conditioning service and repair are advised to prepare themselves for vehicles entering the Australian and New Zealand markets with air conditioning systems that use an all-new refrigerant called R-1234yf.
The first vehicles began appearing in workshops in mid-2014, before cylinders of R-1234yf and equipment to service systems using this gas became officially available on the local market.
Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen Group are also developing systems using a second refrigerant, R-744, which will debut on high-end luxury cars before the technology trickles down to mainstream models.
As R-1234yf gas and related equipment becomes readily available in Australasia and more global manufacturers adopt the new refrigerant, the number of R-1234yf equipped vehicles arriving in showrooms – and subsequently workshops requiring air conditioning work – is set to balloon.
Both new gases and the systems designed for them will present significant changes to the tools, working practices, component standards and workplace safety considerations relating to repair, service and refrigerant recovery.
An industry-led initiative called future:gas will deliver seminars about these new technologies and the reasons they came about at locations around Australia and New Zealand in July and August this year.
Conveniently timed on mid-week evenings with entry priced at just $10, future:gas seminars are designed to be as accessible as possible to those working in automotive air-conditioning.
Attendees to future:gas seminars will be among the first in Australasia to receive a comprehensive overview of the new-generation automotive industry-standard refrigerants in one knowledge-enhancing evening. Created by industry, for industry, the future-gas initiative is thought to be the first of its kind in the world.
Each future:gas seminar will feature presentations from top industry experts, who will explain the reason for the changes, the technical background of the new refrigerants, new safe working practices and standards relating to the quality and design of both components and service equipment.
Spaces are limited, so early booking is advised. Tickets are heavily subsidised by contributions from industry associations and corporate sponsorship, priced at just $10 per delegate and available from www.futuregas.ac through a secure online booking system.
Over time, the futuregas.ac website will become an information resource for new-generation automotive refrigerants.
Since the ozone layer damaging CFC refrigerant R-12 was phased out in the mid-1990s, the only refrigerant used by vehicle manufacturers has been R-134a.
With climate change now on the agenda, vehicle air conditioning systems using R-134a are becoming a thing of the past because R-134a is around 1300 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas if released to the atmosphere.
For comparison, R-12 is 10,900 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, in addition to destroying stratospheric ozone.
Both R-1234yf and R-744 are ozone-friendly and have global warming potential of below or equal to carbon dioxide.
Ten automotive refrigerant facts
- Much of the global automotive industry has adopted R-1234yf as the standard refrigerant in new cars, primarily due to tightening overseas legislation over the global warming effect of refrigerants released into the atmosphere.
- Unlike the switch from R-12 to R-134a there will be no need to change existing air conditioning systems over to R-1234yf, because R-134a will continue to be available for servicing older equipment.
- With similar thermal properties to R-134a, R-1234yf requires only minor system design differences and faults can be diagnosed using the same methods as R-134a.
- R-1234yf carries an ASHRAE rating of A2L (mildly flammable) and is subject to Dangerous Goods class 2.1 handling and transportation requirements.
- However R-1234yf is not easily ignited and struggles to sustain and propagate a flame compared with A3 (highly flammable) rated refrigerants available to the aftermarket but never used or approved by OEMs.
- To ensure safety, new SAE standards apply to the quality of system components and the equipment used to service R-1234yf systems. Some equipment is rated as compatible with both R-134a and R-1234yf and some equipment is suitable only for R-1234yf.
- Flammability concerns about R-1234yf are held by some car manufactures – most notably Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, which initially refused to adopt it but has since started using it with additional safeguards for some models and developed systems using a non-flammable refrigerant called R744 that will initially be used for high-end vehicles.
- R-744 is pure carbon dioxide, which requires operating pressures up to ten times higher than R-134a or R-1234yf and therefore additional considerations around safety and working practices.
- Like R-1234yf, working with R-744 will require new service equipment meeting the relevant SAE standards, as well as technical training about the major differences.
- Although it has been used for some time in stationary equipment, getting R-744 systems to work for automotive applications has been a significant engineering challenge, with unique components and system layouts required for this refrigerant.
VASA, the peak body for the automotive air conditioning industry in Australasia, along with Refrigerants Australia, Refrigerant Reclaim Australia and licensing body the Australian Refrigeration Council, identified a need for a seminar roadshow designed to inform and educate thousands of technicians and businesses about the new refrigerants and technologies they will soon be encountering.
Much of the automotive industry lacks awareness or is confused by conflicting messages or misinformation about the new automotive air-conditioning refrigerants R-1234yf and R-744, so there is a pressing need for this campaign of seminars, which will be made up of presentations from highly credible sources.
Topics covered will include technological background, reasons for the phase-out of R-134a and the impacts these will have on their equipment, skills and safety practices.
Among the target audience are main dealer workshops, aftermarket repairers and the panel repair industry. Apart from main dealers, smash repairers will be the first to encounter cars with the new technology on damaged late-model vehicles.
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